GOP lawmaker pleads for Obama not to reduce Afghanistan force

A senior member of the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday joined a growing chorus of Republican lawmakers warning the Obama administration not to drop the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan below 10,000.

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Reuters earlier this week reported that the administration was debating whether to leave fewer than 10,000 troops, the minimum number military leaders claim is necessary to continue training Afghan forces and carrying out counterterrorism operations in the country, after the U.S.-led mission wraps at the end of the year.

Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.) predicted Afghan security forces would need additional assistance through the runoff from the April 5 presidential election and the summer “fighting” season, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.

“I’m very sure it’s more than 10,000 to be able to do the job that’s done. … The day-to-day fighting will be done by the Afghans, but they need support,” Kline said.

In a joint statement on Tuesday Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) said that cutting the number of troops below 10,000 would be a “fatal mistake.” 

“After 13 years of sacrifice and investment, success in Afghanistan is now within our grasp,” they said. “The last thing we should do in the coming years is increase the risks to our mission unnecessarily.”